Lawyer

What you can do

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Lawyers can play a role in preventing legal problems before they arise, or mitigating problems before they escalate. For example, lawyers can speak with their existing clients about everyday life events that might expose them to legal risk – events such as starting a small business or getting divorced. The CBA has developed a series of Legal Health Checks that lawyers or clients can use to review their legal health and start thinking ahead to avoid problems before they arise.

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Consider whether alternative dispute resolution would be an appropriate option for your clients. Other professionals, such as dispute resolution coaches, negotiators, or mediators can help resolve a dispute before it reaches the courts. Indeed, alternative dispute resolution processes are sometimes a mandatory part of the litigation process.

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Lawyers contribute immensely to access to justice through taking on pro bono cases where they are not paid for their services. In addition, working for reduced fees (or “low bono” work) makes a lawyer’s services more accessible to people who otherwise could not afford legal help.

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Similar to low and pro bono work, unbundling aims to reduce costs and make legal help affordable for more people. Instead of having a lawyer handle all aspects of a file from start to finish, changes in professional rules of conduct allow lawyers to “unbundle” their services – the lawyer will do some work on the file and the client will do some tasks themselves. A clear retainer agreement setting out the work that the lawyer is undertaking is essential. Unbundled services should only be offered in situations where they provide meaningful access to justice for the client.

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Encourage all members of your justice community and the public to prioritize equal justice.

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Consider volunteering your time with a CBA committee such as the Access to Justice Committee, the Legal Aid Liaison Committee or the Pro Bono Committee. Committee members typically serve two one-year terms, and can go on to become vice-chair or chair of their committee. Nominations are accepted for committees each April. New members are chosen based on merit, experience, gender, geography and diversity. Nominations are vetted by the Nominating Committee and decided at the annual CBA Council meeting in August. For more information, check out the webpage of the committee you are interested in joining.